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European Markets Fall As Fed Dampens Stimulus Hopes

The European markets are declining on Wednesday, after minutes of the latest monetary policy meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve dampened hopes of additional stimulus in the world's largest economy. Lenders and miners are under pressure.

The minutes of the Fed's March meeting indicated that only two of the 10 members saw the case for another round of quantitative easing amid signs of improvement in the U.S. economy. The minutes of the January meeting had shown that "a few members" believed conditions could warrant additional securities purchases.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is declining 1.36 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is dropping 0.77 percent.

The German DAX is declining 1.89 percent and the French CAC 40 is dropping 1.60 percent. The UK's FTSE 100 is losing 1.26 percent and Switzerland's SMI is falling 0.57 percent.

In Frankfurt, Daimler is falling 2.3 percent. The carmaker backed its earnings and revenue forecast for fiscal year 2012 after reporting strong vehicle sales for the first quarter. BMW and Volkswagen are down about 2 percent each.

Commerzbank is falling 1.5 percent and Deutsche Bank is losing 1.3 percent.

Credit Suisse raised its rating on Hugo Boss to "Neutral" from "Outperform." The stock is declining 4.5 percent.

Deutsche Wohnen was cut to "Neutral" from "Buy" at UBS. The stock is falling 3 percent.

In Paris, Peugeot and Renault are losing 4.3 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.

Veolia Environnement is losing 3.4 percent on a report that the company may assume sole control of a ferry services operator.

Credit Agricole and BNP Paribas are declining 2 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively. Societe Generale is falling 0.9 percent.

In London, miners tracked commodities lower. Antofagasta is falling 3.2 percent, Fresnillo is losing 5.3 percent and Kazakhmys is falling 2.6 percent. Rio Tinto is losing 3.1 percent.

Evraz is declining 5 percent and Polymetal International is retreating 3.9 percent.

Among lenders, Barclays is losing 3 percent and Royal Bank of Scotland is falling 2.9 percent.

Weir Group is declining 3.8 percent and Wolseley is falling 3.2 percent.

In retailing, Kingfisher is falling 2.5 percent and Marks & Spencer is falling 3.1 percent. Next is losing about 3 percent.

Logica shares are falling 5.7 percent after the company announced that Seamus Keating, head of its Benelux operations, has stepped down as a director after thirteen years of service.

BTG is adding about 2 percent after the company raised its full year revenue outlook.

London Stock Exchange is up about 1 percent. Barclays raised the stock to "Overweight" from "Equalweight."

In economic news, the European Central Bank is set to announce its rate decision at 7.45 am ET. Economists widely expect policymakers to maintain the rate at 1.00 percent.

Germany's service sector growth slowed less than initially estimated in March, final data released by Markit Economics and BME showed. Meanwhile, the French private sector contracted more than initially estimated in March, a survey by Markit Economics revealed.

Data from Eurostat showed that Eurozone retail sales declined in February, but at a slower-than-expected pace.

Activity in the British service sector increased at a faster pace in March, contrary to economists' forecast for a slowdown, data from a survey by Markit Economics and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply showed.

China on Tuesday almost tripled the amount of money that foreign fund managers can invest in the country's capital markets. The China Securities Regulatory Commission increased the quotas for foreign institutions to $80 billion from $30 billion, as part of an expansion of the qualified foreign institutional investor scheme.

Across Asia/Pacific, Australia's All Ordinaries slipped 0.12 percent and Japan's Nikkei 225 declined 2.3 percent.

In the U.S., futures point to a lower open on Wall Street. In the previous session, major averages closed lower as the minutes of the Fed's March meeting seemed to indicate that the members were less willing to initiate another round of quantitative easing. The Dow fell 0.5 percent, the Nasdaq edged down 0.2 percent and the S&P 500 slid 0.4 percent.

In the commodity space, crude for May delivery is falling $1.11 to $102.90 per barrel and June gold is dropping $44.6 to $1627.4 a troy ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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